Objects of Desire Late Event

Objects of Desire: After Hours

To celebrate our Objects of Desire exhibition, we present a special late opening exploring the legacies of Surrealism.

What to expect

Surrealism changed the face of art and design forever, spearheading an unpredented exploration of the body and mind. Challenging attitudes about eroticism and psychology, life and death, the Surrealists harnessed the notion of the unconscious to depict what was taboo in contemporary society. Despite the progressive vision of its artists, many of the creatives central to Surrealism are overlooked in art history, and it remains the western male elite who are most celebrated amongst its number.

Artists today continue to channel the subversive potential of the Surrealist ethos whilst critiquing the more exclusive elements of the Surrealist Manifesto. Acknowledging the contributions of women, queer and non-western artists to Surrealism, this special after hours opening celebrates the underrepresented voices who were integral in it’s formation, and the contemporary practitioners who are pushing forward the movement’s legacy.

Visitors will hear from contemporary Surrealists Irenosen Okojie and Hamed Maiye, art historian Alyce Mahon and performative platform Tour de Moon. A series of talks will explore the continued influence of Afro-Surrealism, the role of women and genderqueer artists in the 20th century, and methods to support the next generation of Surrealist creatives, whilst drop in workshops offer the opportunity to create Surreal designs of your own.


Automatic Art Workshops

Creative Workshop and Common Room

-18.30 – 21.00

Try your hand at surrealist art-making with automatic drawing, pair up to play exquisite corpse game, or channel Elsa Schiaparelli to create surrealist accessories .

Surreal Salon


-18.00: Tour De Moon Talks
Nelly Ben Hayoun’s Tour De Moon project is deeply inspired by Surrealism and the theatre of Antonin Artaud. As the founder and Creative Director of Tour De Moon, Nelly discusses how she’s using the creative platform to empower the next generation of Surrealist artists, musicians and poets through parties and performances. With Tour De Moon youth reporter Dionne Scougul and filmmaker Kes Eccleston.

-18.40: Screening of Many Moons Ago by Kes Eccleston
Divided into four chapters, Many Moons Ago explores the moon’s influence on the magic and dynamism of blackness, motherhood and African spirituality.

-19.00: Afro Surrealism Then and Now
The term "Afro-surreal Expressionism" was coined by Amiri Baraka in his 1974 essay on Black Arts Movement writer Henry Dumas, though an Afro Surrealism as inspired by but distinct from European Surrealism can be traced to Suzanne Césaire’s discussion of the “revolutionary impetus of surrealism” in the 1940s. In this conversation, writer Irenosen Okojie and artist-designer Hamed Maiye discuss how Surrealism shapes their exploration of the black experience.

-19.50: Gender and 20th Century Surrealism
Claude’s Cahun’s Disavowels text has become seminal in deconstructing the gender tropes that were so rigidly adhered to by the French surrealists. In this talk, Art Historian Alyce Mahon and filmmaker Sarah Pucill speak to the surrealist artists past and present who used its motifs to turn conservative notions of gender and sexuality on their head. 

Surrealist Ball


DJ and performer Anjali Prashar Savoie rounds off the evening with a DJ set accompanied by performative reading.

The Design Museum shop and bar will be open in our atrium throughout the event.

Please note:

• The exhibition will be open to visitors, with last entry at 7.45.

• The event and exhibition are ticketed separately. Access to the talks will be granted to event ticket holders only.

• Drop-in workshops will be accessible to members of the public with or without an event ticket.


Kes Eccleston

Kes Eccleston is an Afro Caribbean artist based in North west London. Their practice over the past year has been devoted to working within the mediums of film, photography and sound. Kes is interested in the relationship between the individual and the community, as well as issues regarding race, subjectivity, and spirituality and culture.

Alyce Mahon

Mahon is a professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Cambridge with a specialist interest in Surrealism, feminist art practice, and performance art. She is the author of Surrealism & the Politics of Eros 1938–1968, Eroticism & Art, and The Marquis de Sade and the Avant-Garde, and the editor of Dorothea Tanning.

Hamed Maiye

Maiye is an interdisciplinary artist based in London whose work revolves around memory, magic, visual archiving and magical realism. Using materials which question language, painting and image making, he explores cultural anthropology through mythology, Yoruba philosophy, historical documentation and archiving. Maiye's work presents viewers with allegorical scenarios used to invoke introspection, emotional reflections and forged/false memories.

Irenosen Okojie

Okojie is a leading voice in contemporary surrealist fiction. Her bold novel, Butterfly Fish, and short stories Speak Gigantular and Nudibranch have won multiple awards. Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, she won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for her story, Grace Jones. She is co-presenter of the BBC's Turn Up For The Books podcast and Contributing Editor for The White Review. In 2021, she was awarded an MBE For Services To Literature.

Sarah Pucill

Sarah Pucill has been making 16mm films since 1990. Her films have won awards and been screened at festivals and in galleries internationally. Surrealist language and influence inspires much of her work, in particular the influence of Maya Deren, Claude Cahun and her partner Marcel Moore. Her films Magic Mirror and Confessions to the Mirror have re-imagined many of Cahun's photographs alongside her writing. Pucill is a Reader at the Univeristy of Westminster.

Tour de Moon

Tour de Moon is a cosmic journey into the possibilities of tomorrow: live shows, nightlife, digital experiences and more created in collaboration with the Moon. As a touring festival and creative platform, they curate talks, cinema, music and games all under one cosmic theme, with the goal of supporting emerging creatives.

Book online

Booking information

Adult: £12
Student/Concession: £10
Members: £9

Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Visit our terms & conditions page for further information.

A limited number of tickets are available through our Emerging Designers Access Scheme. If you are an emerging designer and facing financial barriers to attend, please register here.

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A fully functioning lobster telephone, a fur bracelet and a chair designed mid-air - explore the 10 unmissable highlights from our exhibition.

Background image: Leonora Carrington, The Old Maids , 1947. © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ARS, NY and DACS, London, 2022